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Reassessing our options

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St Vincent and the Grenadines has once again failed to leave an impression on the annual Junior Carifta Track and Field Games.{{more}}

Seen as the premier regional track and field event, the Vincentian contingent which travelled to Martinique was outclassed by its counterparts.

It must be some sort of vindication for those who were bellowing about the team selected; as usual, there were dissenting voices.

Of the five athletes, all males, three Under-20’s and two in the Under-17 category, only Brandon Parris and Reuberth Boyde made it through to any of the finals.

Parris clocked 47.27 seconds in the preliminaries of the 400m Under-20, but could only return a time of 49.43 seconds in the final.

Reuberth Boyde clocked 10.61 seconds in the Under-20 100m, thus earning himself a place in the final.

However, like Parris, he had to watch the other seven finalists complete the race ahead of him.

Boyde’s achievement in the 100m has some significance, as it was the first time since 1999 that St Vincent and the Grenadines had made it to the finals of the 100m at Carifta.

Marlon Martin did so in the then Under-17 category. Before him, Khalil Cato reached the final of the 100m in the Under-20 age group, when the games touched down in Jamaica in 1996.

So, here we are for yet another year when this country’s athletes have not medalled since Delhonni Samuel Nicol gained a silver in the Male Under-20 5,000m at the games held in St Lucia in 2009.

Sad a situation it continues to be, that St Vincent and the Grenadines had to watch in Martinique recently, as our neighbours – St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands and St Kitts – all had podium finishes.

With the continuous drought of medals at the Carifta Games, it is high time we ask where then are we going wrong?

First up, the often default route is the absence of a synthetic track, as well as other facilities. Set the have-nots aside; are our training methodologies and programmes inappropriate for our athletes?

Do our coaches acknowledge that they are not blessed with infinite wisdom and should seek help from other coaches in areas where they are deficient?

Are our coaches swelling the heads of the athletes and coaching them the cotton candy way?

Are our athletes given enough regional exposure to take them from where they are to the next level, or are the athletes satisfied with being the best in St Vincent and the Grenadines, getting a few medals at Inter Schools and at Windward Islands Games and being contented with temporary stardom?

Do we have the vision or are we bold enough to begin to blood athletes and give ourselves another two to three years to begin to get podium finishes?

Is the focus going in the wrong direction? Should St Vincent and the Grenadines shift its concentration and lean towards the field events?

History surely points to the latter, as the records show that at best, the bulk of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ medal take at Carifta has been in the field events.

Similarly, in need for a rethink is St Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation through the Thomas Saunders Secondary School in the Penn Relays in the USA.

Following the gloss and novelty of entering the famed event for the first two years, 2011 and 2012, since then, there has been a downturn in performance almost to the point of oblivion.

This year’s efforts show that the TSSS male team clocked 44.68 seconds in the 4 x 100m, which ranked them 200th of 531, while in the 4 x 400m, their timing of 3 minutes 29.41 seconds put them at 163rd of the 538 entries.

The females did not fare better, as they recorded 4 minutes 21.65 seconds in the 4 x 400m, which placed them 419th of the 591 completed entrants.

Whilst it is a school initiative, there must be justification for the funds from the National Lotteries Authority that are expended each year to assist in their participation.

As it stands, we are not hearing of any of the athletes gaining scholarships and so forth, at least as a recompense for the national investment.

Maybe the TSSS should look to other regional events, such as the Gibson Relays in Jamaica and also stay with the Barbados Relay Classics, before they contemplate their re-launch at the Penn Relays.

The fact is, we get drowned in the large, deep pond at the Penn Relays, simply submerged by superiority.

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